Have you ever stumbled upon the term “melatonin”? It is a hormone produced by the body that has a regulating effect on the day-night rhythm of the human body. But did you know that the “sleep hormone” can do much more and is a real big seller abroad because of its supposed anti-aging effect? We will tell you everything about the effect of melatonin and possible risks.
What does melatonin do?
Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone” because it controls the sleep-wake rhythm of humans. Melatonin is mainly produced from serotonin in the pineal gland of the brain. There it is only secreted in the dark and thus ensures that we feel tired in the evening and that the body gradually adjusts to sleeping. The melatonin level in the blood rises continuously and reaches its peak in the middle of the night, estimated between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning. In the early hours of the morning, the concentration of the sleep hormone drops again, as daylight inhibits production and thus signals the body to become awake and alert again.
Melatonin does not only regulate the day-night rhythm, but also takes over other tasks: Among other things, it is involved in kidney function and blood pressure and, last but not least, has an antioxidant effect. This means that the harmful effects of so-called free radicals are reduced, which can otherwise lead to cell aging or cell damage and are associated with cancer. In recent years, melatonin preparations have become quite popular abroad because of their supposed anti-aging effect and are often available over the counter. Maintaining a healthy sleep rhythm and at the same time ensuring a beautiful complexion in old age, what more could you want? So are melatonin tablets the key to restful sleep and youthful skin?
Melatonin pills – What you need to know
While the sleep hormone is approved for instance in the USA and the Netherlands as a component of food auxiliary means or as single preparation, one can refer to the sleep hormone in Germany starting from a dose over 1 milligram only from only one manufacturer – subject to prescription. The thing has a further hook: The preparation “Circadin” was clinically tested so far only at an older group of test persons. Because there is a lack of studies that can sufficiently confirm the tolerability of melatonin and exclude side effects, the drug may normally only be prescribed to patients over 55 years of age. But why is the allocation in this country much more strictly regulated than abroad, when the sleep hormone is allegedly bursting with positive effects?
According to the advertising promises the own sleep quality can be optimized with an additional income of the hormone and a disturbed Melatonin household be balanced. This is present if the body does not make a sufficient quantity available of Melatonin at the appropriate day and night times. In addition to age-related reasons, however, external influences such as stress, irregular daily routines, or a time difference during long-distance travel can also be responsible for a disturbance of the melatonin level. Scientific studies on an additional intake of melatonin come to contradictory results. While in some studies the hormone had a positive effect on the ability to fall asleep, this effect could not be proven in other studies.
The effect of melatonin on sleep is controversial
The unvarnished conclusion of sleep research is: The effect of Melatonin is not yet completely clarified and therefore scientifically controversial. Hormone preparations should therefore be taken with caution! Because the individual sleep quality is composed of the most diverse factors and the Melatonin household represents only a small wheel in the gear, the dosage of the sleep hormone does not bring most humans an advantage. Only with very slight sleep disturbances, the gift of Melatonin can provide short term relief. Taken over a longer period of time, side effects such as lack of concentration, chest pain, stomach problems, or migraine attacks can become noticeable. Interactions with other drugs are also possible.
Our tip: If you suffer from recurring sleep disorders, you should definitely make sure that you sleep in a darkened room. This way the pineal gland can release the sleep hormone for as long as possible and you increase your chances of a restful night’s sleep in a natural way without having to resort to controversial preparations!